Q: Just saw Remy's Bistro just closed at Airport and Pine Ridge. Fabulous food. What happened?
— Jack Merdinger, Naples
A: After serving the Naples area since 1997, locally owned Remy's Bistro, 2300 Pine Ridge Road, closed suddenly at the end of February with no announcement or formal goodbyes.
"Their lease term was expiring this year and we came to an agreement for them to vacate early in order to accommodate our future transaction," said Ryan Joyce of Kite Realty Group, operator of Pine Ridge Crossing shopping center.
Attempts to confirm this with the bistro's owners, Chris Mangovski and Kosta Jankovski, were unsuccessful. The pair, who took over Remy's in 2002, moved out on the last weekend of the month and have not returned calls.
By early last week, the restaurant was cleared out, including its tables and chairs. Banquettes lining the wall that divides the bar from the dining room were left behind and the large panels of original paintings remain suspended from the restaurant's 18-foot industrial ceiling.
Although Joyce would not disclose the new tenant for the prime endcap space yet, he did say that it won't be another restaurant. That's what Sunburst Cafe owner Jerome Tocio was told, too, when he asked about possibly relocating his longtime business in the center of the shopping plaza to the highly visible, 3,600-square-foot restaurant space vacated by Remy's.
"We outgrew our space over the years," said Tocio, who has operated his coffee shop in the center for nearly 14 years.
Remy's is the second major restaurant the center has lost in as many years. Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House moved out last year, leaving an out-parcel vacant.
Remy's sudden closing nearly derailed a big birthday party scheduled there March 2. A party of 22 women from the First Christian Church were gathering to celebrate the 80th birthday of Lee Miller of Naples.
JoAnn Aycock, organizer of the event, said she received a call from a restaurant staff member the Sunday before the party saying that Remy's would be closed that next week for remodeling. Although it was last minute, China Tokyo in the same shopping center graciously accommodated Aycock and her large party.
"We were a little bit panicked, but it all worked out," Aycock said.
After a citrus center and shipping business formerly occupied the space, Charles and Helen Wallace opened Remy's nearly 14 years ago with a French-inspired menu. The Wallaces also then owned Margaux, another former Naples restaurant.
Remy's received raves from the beginning for its appetizers, lunches, dinners and live music. Its menu had been described as continental American cuisine meets Mediterranean classics. Entrees included osso buco, veal medallions, bouillabaisse, grouper Rockefeller, and a seafood tower of salmon, shrimp and scallops.
In a review published five years ago in Showcase, Daily News restaurant critic Linda Gordon summed up Remy's excellent value.
"This place has got it together," Gordon wrote.
One of Gordon's published reviews, mounted on a wooden plaque, still remains visible in a window next to Remy's main entrance. At least two others can be seen hanging in the foyer near the end of the restaurant's bar.
In 2004, Remy's tomato-based conch chowder made Gordon's annual list of favorite meals enjoyed the previous year. In 2000, she also included Remy's in a sampling of some of the stellar taste treats she had that year, raving about its black Angus strip steak with brandy peppercorn sauce and pomme frites. Beginning in 1998, Remy's nut-crusted baked brie became one of her perennial favorites.
Many patrons agreed with Gordon that the bistro's innovative fare and unique venue were a cut above the average strip center diner.
Have a question? E-mail it with your name and city of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find a complete archive of "In the Know" at naplesnews.com/intheknow.